But no one, and I repeat NO ONE, does Music Midtown quite like Kid Rock (except for maybe Morris Day and The Time, who put on the most unexpectedly awesome show I've ever seen a few years back). Don't get me wrong, Kid Rock is in nowhere near the same musical league as the artists mentioned above. But on the flip side, as an outdoor festival entertainer, none of the artists above are in the same league as Kid Rock. Last night was my first live experience of The Kid, and here were some highlights:

– Maybe the greatest intro ever. After his Twisted Brown Trucker Band built up the crowd with anticipation, Kid Rock finally emerged in a fast-paced march to the stage, tossing his drink aside halfway there, violently grabbing the mic, and finally screaming, "MY NAME IS KID!!! ... ," at which point the crowd just lost it. After that entrance, I looked over to the biggest Kid Rock fan I know, my friend Michael, who just proudly nodded to me.

– No one has ever incorporated strippers into their act more seamlessly than this man.

– In almost every song he did, he found a way to shamelessly change a lyric to cater to the crowd. Georgia, Atlanta, and The South were referenced no less than six thousand times.

– He put on the most self-indulgent jam I've ever seen. In one five minute span, he sang, played guitar, the banjo, keyboard, the drums, spun records, landed a triple-axle, swallowed a sword, and wrestled an alligator. Only three of those didn't happen.

– He exhibits just enough talent that you can't completely write him off as a joke. For example, "Cowboy" is a lyrical masterpiece. And yes, I'm running wild with the Walton-esque hyperbole right now. Just go with it.

– Sometimes a performer is only as good as his crowd. This crowd was perfect. He could have started reading poetry and people would have been screaming their heads off with excitement.

So what did I learn from all this? That Kid Rock is the ultimate "great, bad movie" of musicians. He does things that are supposed to be taken seriously, but that instead cause you to laugh hysterically, yet at the end this makes him only more endearing. He's "The Karate Kid", "Above The Rim", and "Commando" all rolled into one. He may not be what I want in my artistic heroes, but he's everything I want in a celebrity.

The Links:

sltrib.com (J.R. W.) – Refusal of your younger brother to continue making eye contact with you? One broken family. Ridicule from an entire middle-school? Two years of therapy. Getting the cold shoulder from even the most desperate girl in your class? Three months of crying. Inability of anyone to ever question your loyalty to the Utah Jazz again? Priceless.

nba.com – As a friend of mine said, "It is your duty to link to this and give Paul Shirley a proper send-off." He's right, plus this contains some solid digs and a shout-out to Simmons.

yahoo.com (Mitch W.) – In further tribute to Gary, here is my all-time favorite line from "Diff'rent Strokes":

Arnold: "If it's true that you are what you eat, that must mean I'm a sixty pound twinkie!"


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